When I first heard of a Legacy Drawer set up I had absolutely no idea what it was. To me, it sounded like a collection of memories that I wanted to pass on to my kids and grandkids.
After some research and reading up at daveramsey.com, I was surprised to find out that a legacy drawer is something completely different than I first realized. That instead of a memory file of random collections, it is actually a tool that is used to organized your wishes. And that is something not only useful but necessary for our children as we get older.
What is a Legacy Drawer?
Basically, a legacy drawer is where you house all of you and your family’s important information so it can be easily found in the event that something happens to you. Yes, I know not a pleasant thing to talk about, but when you look at it as a tool, an incredibly valuable one that will help your family in a difficult situation… it changes things up just a bit.
No matter what your age or the size of your family you really should consider setting up a legacy drawer. You have worked so hard for the home and life you have created so far. Having a drawer with all of your important papers in a central location will help to ensure everything remains intact.
Remember the overall goal here is to help your loved ones so setting up a legacy drawer as soon as possible is, quite honestly, an easy decision to make.
Whether you are single, married, have children or not, everyone should prepare for their future to ensure it remains with your family.
How To Set Up A Legacy Drawer
Step #1 Decide on a Safe Location
You will want to choose a location that is easy to find as well as easy to access by anyone in your family that you give permission to. I would recommend an office drawer or a separate filing cabinet – one that you can lock if possible.
If you do not have a secure area to house your important papers, you can purchase a fireproof lockbox to ensure your Legacy Drawer is kept safe at all times. We use a lockbox like this one ourselves and have been quite pleased with it.
It has plenty of room and the items inside are well protected in case of a fire. Our family knows where it is along with the location of the keys.
Step #2 Have a Family Meeting
Once you decide to set up a legacy drawer, you will want to talk things over with your family if possible. This will help you to know that everything is in order and give them the chance to ask any questions if they have them.
I find it is best to be proactive in situations such as this. Keep your family well informed so your wishes are known now in the event something happens later.
Step #3 What to Include in Your Legacy Drawer
In most cases having the original copy of your documents may not always be an option, in this case, a copy is fine. I would, however, make a note that you can keep in your legacy drawer of where the original is being kept just in case it is needed.
Remember to be sure to cover all your bases so that this tool is a complete and resourceful one.
The cover letter will simply give the reason and purpose of the drawer helping whoever is accessing the items to do so with confidence. Making decisions at this time can be incredibly difficult. Look at this drawer as a gift. One you are setting up to make this process less stressful for the person you have designated to go through.
Will and Estate Plans.
You will want to include all the information regarding your will and your estate. Be sure to include the name(s) of your executor and the Power of Attorney if one is assigned.
You can also have a list of duties you see each person handling. Again, as a way to make this process less overwhelming.
All the information you have for life, health, home, and car insurance should be included. It may be easier to keep a cover sheet explaining each for quicker access. Include contact names, phone numbers, and addresses as well.
Include all information regarding checking, savings, CD, investments, 401k, all loans, mortgage, credit cards, memberships, etc. Anything that involves money that is in you and/or your spouse’s name should be included.
List the bank, account numbers and phone number of each establishment. Remember, each company will need to be contacted so be sure to include any information that will help to make this task a bit easier.
Include any deeds, social security cards, birth certificates, passports, and titles. If you cannot put the originals in, a copy should be kept in its place along with a note giving the location of the original.
Keep a list of any passwords to accounts or sites that may need to be accessed on your behalf. List the site, the username, password and the reason why you are including it. You can use a password keeper to again keep things easy to find and organized.
Safe Deposit Box
Not many people have safe deposit boxes anymore, but if you do make sure to include the information on where it is and how to access it. Keeping copies of what is in your legacy drawer in your safety deposit box is a great back up to have as well.
If you are in charge of the bills and budget for your home this can be quite helpful for your spouse or loved ones. Knowing exactly what bills are to be paid each month will allow them to focus on other things.
Keeping a copy of 2-3 years of tax returns is helpful. You do not need to include everything but the main return can be helpful.
Listing exactly what you would like done in the event of your death can be so incredibly helpful for your family. The last thing they want to do is make important decisions. Having a list of the “what and how” will be so comforting for your loved ones.
Do your best to keep things specific and straight forward including all the details for both yourself and your spouse if you are married.
Letters to Loved Ones
You may also want to include a letter to each of your family members. I really do love this part of the Legacy Drawer. Taking the time to let family and/or friends know how much you loved and appreciated them will be such a comfort. A comfort for you now and a comfort for them later on.
Give your feelings life with words that are down on paper so your love is known to whomever it was given to.
I realize this is not a fun or exciting task to think about doing. However, knowing the comfort you will be giving your family at such an emotional time should be enough incentive to at least get this on your to-do list.
A Legacy Drawer is a gift. A gift for you knowing things are covered the way you want them to be and a gift for those that need to handle your estate later on.